San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello advised secondary school pupils to not just look at an academic path but into the world of the performing arts for “the buzz” to life. The mayor was speaking at an appreciation ceremony of the T&T-Cuba Educational and Cultural Exchange programME, Arts: Education for Life (T&T-CECE) at the San Fernando City Hall Chamber on September 9.
The initiative for the T&T-CECE began in 2015 when steel pan pupils from Success/Laventille Secondary School completed a ten-day workshop in Cuba. It was from there, according to T&T-CECE project co-ordinator, Nicholas Cumberbatch, the demand for arts in schools became their priority.
Cumberbatch said the T&T pupils were fascinated by the humility and the seriousness of the Cuban pupils to their culture that many would have benefited from the premiere dance folk company on return in 2017 and hosted shows throughout Trinidad.
It was in this spirit that Regrello urged pupils from Naparima Girls College and St Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando, to look for “the buzz” in the arts and not solely in academics while at school.
He said, “The arts is so critical to our development.... you can’t all be doctors and lawyers’ it will be a boring world. I am into the arts; that is where the buzz is, your teachers are investing in you and there is hope and potential in it for you. Invest in it, dream it and dream big.”
Cumberbatch then endorsed Regrello’s sentiments and noted that in January the Habana Compas Dance, Percussive Dance Company made a reciprocal visit to Trinidad for ten days and shared the importance of arts in education.
He said through this forum they were able to bring awareness to the importance of arts in education, when they hosted two sold out performances at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (Napa), Port-of-Spain and National Academy for the Performing Arts (southern campus).
Cumberbatch said it would be an ongoing project in which all pupils can benefit from.
Former Success/Laventille School’s principal Hamida Baksh said it was a challenge for her to allocate space and finances at her school in a way to introduce the performing arts.
She said, “I wanted to expand the vision of the performing arts at the school. I did not have a dance teacher and wanted to introduce dance at the school. This was the catalyst for me to work on getting a dance teacher, try to develop a dance studio at school and borrow some space. It was a partnership between the public and the private sectors. It was a model we used and it worked for us.”
Cumberbatch recognised the contribution and commitment made to the project by directors Baksh, John Julien and former mayor/dance icon Torrence Mohammed.